REALITY OF 'TEEN SEX'

 

SEAN O'NEILL,

Madam, - We were disturbed by the content of Kathryn Holmquist's article "Dealing with the reality of teen sex" (December 10th).

Addressing parents, she writes: "If your daughter is like half the 15- and 16 year-old girls, she's having sex. If she's like most of them, she's drinking. She may be one of those turning up at women's health clinics looking for the morning-after pill, not remembering if she actualy had sexual intercourse or not."

Presumably Ms Holmquist is exaggerating. Amy Feran, writing (December 18th) on behalf of sixth-year students at Our Lady's School in Rathnew, certainly thinks so. However, there is certainly a worrying youth sub-culture out there which borders on depravity. This was shown by the Prime Time programme on alcohol abuse last month.

It was also shown by Stephen Rowen, Director of the Rutland Centre, Dublin, in a lecture entitled "Alcohol, the Media and Youth" delivered to an FMA meeting in March of last year. (See an extensive report on the lecture in our publication Media Report No 23, Autumn issue of the same year.)

We are talking here of young people, many of them 15 and 16 years old. All of us as a society are responsible for allowing this sub-culture to develop; the Government, the media, the churches, teachers and parents.

Our association's main focus is on the media and in particular, as we represent a considerable number of viewers and listeners to our National Public Service Broadcaster, RTÉ.

In our submissions to the Forum on Broadcasting, and subsequently, to the Minister for Communications, Mr Dermot Ahern (at his request), we supported, with reservations, the role of RTÉ as our national broadcaster; and to enable it to fulfil this role, the increase of its licence fee.

In its submission to the forum, RTÉ set high standards for itself - which we would expect. The director general and the directors of television and radio are worthy people, but do not always appear to insist that these standards are met in their areas of responsibility.

For example, on the Today with Pat Kenny show (October 25th) free advertising time was given to a condom manufacturer to promote its new condom product. It offered free condoms to Irish students and a cash incentive of €158 per student per term, to test the pleasure rating of its condom compared with other such products. Mr Kenny ended the slot with the remark, "On to some more serious matters in a moment."

The 2FM Gerry Ryan show had been running, for some time, a "bonking competition" in conjunction with the Sunday World. In his show of October 11th Mr Ryan reminded listeners that the competition was "where we had you tell us the strangest public place that you ever had a shag." He then interviewed a number of competitors including the eventual winner, a woman who had sex with her partner in a confession box.

We are all responsible, some more than others, for the development of this youth sub-culture which does not augur well for the future of our society. In the words of the Director of the Rutland Centre: "Sometimes I wonder if we have not lost our sanity in terms of what we allow. We tolerate the intolerable. We have lowered our standards." - Yours, etc.,

SEAN O'NEILL,

Honorary Secretary,

Family and Media Association,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.